Paramount will fly high again this weekend when Top Gun: Maverick soaring to $950 million worldwide on its way to a now-inevitable $1+ billion grand finale at the global box office. With clear skies ahead until the Fourth of July weekend when Minions: The Rise of Groot hits theaters, even that holiday weekend will obviously wind up a boon for Tom Cruise’s blockbuster sequel and help propel it into billion dollar territory.
Elsewhere, Lost World: Dominion should reach $740+/- million this weekend, on its way toward a likely $900+ million final tally (remember it still has Japan on its release calendar, and this franchise does terrific business in that market), while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is still tracking toward a final cume of about $950+/- million.
New arrivals Elvis and The Black Phone still have plenty of room to reach their targets, although I expect Elvis to underperform and The Black Phone to possibly over-perform, due to their relative positions comparable to other films in the marketplace and their own target demographics. I’m guessing The Black Phone will fall closer to $20 million, while Elvis winds up in $20-25 million territory (although I won’t be shocked if I’m mistaken about these two, since there’s still plenty of wiggle room at the box office this weekend).
As I discussed last weekend, the ongoing Covid pandemic surge driven by new, more easily transmissible variants has done little to stifle audience attendance and enthusiasm lately, and all signs indicate this will (as I mentioned in that previous article) continue to be the case for at least several more weeks.
If, as expected, the surge results in rising hospitalizations including increased numbers of children, then at that point we will see theatrical attendance start to drop again. Likewise, rising gas prices and other economic issues could contribute further, if people are already feeling disinclined to visit multiplexes due to Covid hospitalizations.
But as with last weekend, that’s all in the future, and for now we can expect Top Gun: Maverick and the other blockbuster performers to continue enjoying outsized attendance and good box office holds week to week. Even China, where strict Covid precautions saw theaters shuttered and major cities shut down, is seeing increasingly “healthy” (a misnomer if ever there was one) ticket sales at the moment.
While I’m sure Paramount will see blockbuster success with the upcoming two-part swan song for star Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One and Part Two, I can’t help suspecting the studio would love to be able to release it this year to cash in on audience enthusiasm. There’s no certainty what conditions we’ll see next year — pandemic, political instability, and increasingly bizarre weather patterns could all disrupt and suppress theatrical turnout in myriad ways.
There are only perhaps half a dozen or so significant contenders for blockbuster status through the rest of the summer. Which is a lot, but compared to most years it leaves a lot of opportunity for other films to make bank, too. So a late-summer release of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One would have a solid shot at over-performing like Top Gun: Maverick. The previous chapter, Fallout, almost hit $800 million as the series highest grosser to date, and I bet Dead Reckoning Part One would top that figure easily and probably sneak past $900+ million on the coattails of Maverick plus the sheer rising popularity of the M:I series itself.
On the other hand, if conditions hold up — especially if the pandemic continues but the newer vaccines targeting new variants later this year finally help slow and contain the pandemic into 2023 — then perhaps Paramount will experience the best sort of déjà vu and have another runaway Tom Cruise hit on their hands for next year as well.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two doesn’t arrive until 2024, so it’s even harder to predict how it might be received, which makes me wonder if a spring release for Part One and summer/fall release for Part Two would maximize the revenue stream or step on its own toes. If I had to make a prediction, I’d say it’ll work out fine, but I can’t help feeling that releasing Part One this year and Part Two next year might’ve scored a few extra tens or even hundreds of millions in additional ticket sales.
I’ll be back soon with more updates soon, including when Top Gun: Maverick finally roars past $1 billion. In the meantime, stay safe and mask up, dear readers!